Saturday, 16 March 2013

"Beware the Ides of March!"

I've never been too superstitious, but the fact that it was the Ides of March, yesterday, didn't surprise me. It didn't begin very well for Olivia and myself. Days in which she falls in the mud, and I lose my debit card at a critical moment, are seemingly irredeemable. take a drive into town.

The sushi take-out place had opened a few months ago and we had all laughed. Our town is not that sort of place. MacDonald's is more in our line. Besides, to me sushi meant raw fish and bacteria and consequent stomach pumping. But, after our sister Abigail had tried it out first (isn't that what older sisters are for - kind of like cup bearers?) and had pronounced it good and not all raw fish, I was game to try it out.

So, we marched into the little shop downtown, as if we were hipsters who ate weird stuff all the time. We were greeted with the hugest smiles I had ever seen. The very friendly couple quickly took our order (Abigail had told us the spicy pork rolls were the best kind) and we sat down to wait. The decor was interesting - decals on the windows and walls featuring animals and smiley faces along with phrases such as "lovely smile," "gentle smile." And there were rows of fake flower arrangements, flanking the wall.

Our order was soon ready and, with smiles and many thanks all 'round, we went back to the car that I had parked to face the frozen river. We opened our take out boxes and dug in. Olivia promptly broke her chopsticks. I didn't even try to use mine but employed my fingers to pick up the first piece.

Man! I'm no food writer, so I can't describe how it tasted. I can just tell you that it was really, really good! I woke up thinking about it, this morning. I ate the whole roll in about two minutes flat. Olivia did likewise, though slightly slowed down by her broken chopsticks.

Well, we were on a roll, now (no pun intended). My next suggestion was met with loud hurrahs. The bulk food store! This is also a fairly new shop. It's name contains the word "friendly" and no better adjective exists to describe this place. The man who runs it, a retired mechanic of some sort who always apologises if he thinks the prices are too high, is indeed one of the friendliest people I've ever met. Olivia adores their selection of dried fruit and they've got a pretty impressive candy collection, as well. Yesterday, I was elated to discover they have those mini candy bananas that can often be found in candy dispensers in shopping malls.

Finally, it was time to get to the actual purpose of coming to town - a monthly meeting with a writer's group which is held across the river in a small cafe. And get this - the owner opens the cafe exclusively for us to meet. I felt like I should do the dishes for him! I had chamomile tea, served in a tea cup and Olivia sipped away on a "cafe mocha." They apparently have really good cake, too, which I have yet to try.

When the meeting was over, I chatted with the owner about books while the rest of the group looked around the small art gallery that is attached to the cafe.

There is something just amazing about small towns - a relaxed, personable feeling that you can't get anywhere else. And besides, where else can you run into a store and ask, "Is my mom here?" and the store owner knows exactly who you're talking about? But, that's another story.

The truth is - Walmart is sometimes easier, and cheaper. And, please feel no guilt if you care to go there. But, if you're in a feeling to be charitable, to invest in people, to reward hard work and ingenuity and real service, then look no further than the small town business, whether it be a sushi shop, a hardware store, or a meat market.

And let's give three cheers for friendly smiles, Asian cuisine, and a redeemable Ides of March.

- Millie

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